Since 2015, nearly 1000 military children have been impacted by one of Operation Teammate’s 24 sporting experiences. Some opportunities are for a large number of children, while others are more intimate.
Operation Teammate works with various military family support centers and deployment groups to educated communities about upcoming Operation Teammate experiences, which are 100% free and open to any family going through or preparing for a military family separation. Operation Teammate covers the cost of the activities so that families have no financial burden.
At a recent University of Georgia event, the athletic department requested statistics to gain a little bit of insight on what the military families had experienced.
“Seven families with 15 kids attended that event,” Timothy Montjoy remembers. “The total amount of time that those kids had been separated from their military parents was 189 months. That’s 15 YEARS of total separations for just this one small group of kids.”
Operation Teammate sporting experiences really help highlight what this forgotten piece of the country - the military child - goes through. The typical American family does not move every 2 or 3 years between birth and 18. Understanding this helps these student athletes be more motivated to engage with the Operation Teammate kids.
The pinnacle of a previous event with the North Carolina State University football team came when the senior running back, Brady Bodine, addressed the group. Bodine, whose father serves in the U.S. Marine Corps, shared his experiences of growing up in a military family and how he dealt with the challenges of separation.
“The first time I went to a school for two years in a row was my sophomore year in high school. Changing and moving around, I feel like, it makes you grow and makes you much more of a diverse person and you’re able to go anywhere and fit in.
“When my dad was deployed, I’d always try to find something to kind of keep my mind off of it. I was always active, always running around. I would just say, find what helps you get through things and helps you pass the time when your parents are gone.”
“It’s great to spend time with my family at this type of an event,” Air Force Master Sergeant Joseph Ballantini said. “It was really cool for them, getting autographs and playing out on the field, but it’s good education for them too, to see the impact it has on other families as well.”
When it comes to helping families find the right path, our team is on the front line. We offer our services with the understanding that your family is very busy. You are our #1 priority, and we fully understand that establishing that open line of communication is paramount to the success of Operation Teammate.
AARON MURRAY GIVES SHOUT OUT TO SHAW AIR FORCE BASE
Captain Charles Maxwell with the U.S. Army, explained, “It’s heartbreaking you know, knowing that you’re missing all that stuff. As children grow up there’s milestones that they reach and you like to remember, and some of those milestones I wasn’t there for.”
Long work hours means he cherishes time with his kids even more. His daughter Olivia recently competed in the 2018 Elevate the Stage gymnastics competition at the James Brown Arena, in Augusta, GA, and through Operation Teammate she also spent the day while hanging out with college gymnasts.
“My favorite part was probably getting to sit with them, and I got to talk to them. And meeting one of the gymnast and getting pictures with her,” said Olivia.
Hearing the older gymnasts tell her she can do what they’re doing one day inspires Olivia. Not to mention she got to share the day with her dad.
Olivia explained, “It made me happy because we kind of got to bond, and he would say how cool it was and ask me all these questions about it.”
This is exactly what Operation Teammate is all about; giving military kids some incredible opportunities to be inspired!
The goal is to inspire these kids to stay on track and follow their dreams. Captain Maxwell says families are the backbone of service members.
“I hear the word sacrifice thrown around a lot. But you know, families sacrifice. They do, and we need to remember that and appreciate them,” said Captain Maxwell.
He says families are often the ones forgotten about, which makes him really appreciate the mission of Operation Teammate.
DID YOU KNOW?
SINCE SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001, OVER 2 MILLION MILITARY CHILDREN HAVE EXPERIENCED A SEPARATION DUE TO MILITARY SERVICE.
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